Murderous Secrets Are Hidden in "The Ice House"|
Streech Grange, the august estate owned by Phoebe Maybury (Penny Downie, An
Ideal Husband), may not be as pleasant as it seems on its well-appointed
surface. Ten years ago, Phoebe's husband David disappeared without a trace, and
Phoebe was suspected of his murder by the police and assumed to be his killer
by the local villagers--although his body was never found. But now the
gardener has stumbled upon a corpse--naked, badly decomposed, and
unidentifiable--in the long-abandoned, grown-over ice house at the edge of
the property. Is it David Maybury? Or has yet another crime occurred at the
The Ice House, a three-hour drama based on Minette Walters's
prize-winning novel of the same title, premieres on MYSTERY! in two 90-minute
installments, on Thursday, February 26 and March 5 at 9pm et on PBS (check
local listings). The Sculptress, a previous Walters adaptation, made its
debut earlier this season on MYSTERY!
Combining a twists-and-turns plot with sharply drawn characters and an
unexpected love story, The Ice House transcends the mystery genre to
offer a compelling study in the deception of appearances, the terrible power of
gossip and scandal, and a troubling philosophical question: can personal
vengeance ever be justified?
In the ten years since her husband disappeared, suspicions that Phoebe is
guilty of his murder have been fed by her lifestyle. She now resides in
Streech Grange with two old friends--Diana Goode (Frances Barber, Mobil
Masterpiece Theatre's Rhodes) and Anne Cattrell (Kitty Aldridge, who
also appears in the Cadfael mystery, The Rose Rent)--and rumors
that the three are living in a ménage a trois are widely believed
by the village, which has, for the most part, shunned the women. Phoebe's two
children--the emotionally fragile Jane (Alexandra Milman) and strident
medical student Jonathan (James D'Arcy)--have left home, still haunted by their
father's mysterious disappearance.
The discovery of the body in the ice house brings Chief Inspector George Walsh
(Corin Redgrave, Persuasion) and his young sergeant, Andy McLoughlin
(Daniel Craig, Mobil Masterpiece Theatre's Moll Flanders) to the scene.
For the aggressive Walsh, it's a chance to re-open the Maybury investigation,
which has plagued him for a decade; he has long been convinced of Phoebe's
guilt. For Andy, whose crumbling marriage has contributed to his depression and
severe drinking problem, the case is, at first, almost secondary--it's enough
for him just to get through the day.
Walsh immediately orders a thorough search of the entire Streech Grange. The
women's privacy is soon invaded by scores of policemen--as well as by the
growing presence of the media and angry villagers outside the gates--and it
becomes clear that, despite their protestations of innocence, the three are
hiding something. And keeping the veil of secrecy in place are the visiting
Jane and Jonathan and Phoebe's servants, Fred (Dave Hill) and Molly Phillips
(Ann Bell)--all of whom seem to be guarding secrets of their own.
Andy, meanwhile, finds himself drawn to Anne, a liberal journalist who
maintains an openly confrontational stance toward the police investigation and
delights in taunting Andy with suggestive remarks about her sexuality. Andy and
Anne's tense verbal sparring soon intensifies into mutual sexual attraction,
but when Andy discovers a bloody knife in a safe in Anne's quarters, he is
forced to arrest her.
Rather than helping solve the murder, the discovery of the knife only deepens
the mystery. The growing list of baffling clues--a pair of shoes, a vagrant,
several secret sexual liaisons, a failed business investment, a missing persons
list--will all test Andy's mettle before he can uncover the identity of the
body in the ice house. And even then, one further startling secret will be
revealed, one final revelation of murderous revenge that will finally melt the
ice that has kept Streech Grange and its inhabitants frozen for a decade.
The Ice House, which won the Crime Writers Association Award for Best
First Novel, catapulted author Minette Walters into the top ranks of mystery
writers. Her novel The Sculptress, which appeared on MYSTERY! this past
fall, won the 1994 Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel, one of the detective
fiction genre's highest accolades.
The Ice House is a co-production of the BBC and WGBH Boston in
association with Showcase Canada. Suzan Harrison is producer; Tim Fywell is
director. Executive producer is Chris Parr for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for
WGBH Boston. The screenplay is by Lizzie Mickery, adapted from the novel by
Minette Walters. The Ice House is presented on MYSTERY! by WGBH Boston.
Funding for MYSTERY! is provided by The Insurance Companies of Travelers and
public television viewers. MYSTERY! is closed captioned for deaf and
hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH Boston. Narrated
descriptions of MYSTERY! programs are provided by Descriptive Video
Service® (DVS®), a national service of WGBH that makes television,
cable, and home video programming accessible to people who are blind or
Executive producer for MYSTERY! is Rebecca Eaton. Diana Rigg is host.